Cool Stuff: Your 2008 Christmas Gift Guide

18 economical, expensive, and just plain weird tech gifts for your friends and family

Are you itching to become the next Ginger Baker? Get set to roll -- the Finger Drum Mousepad from Hammacher Schlemmer lets you play eight different percussion sounds: bass, snare, two rack toms, a floor tom, hi-hat, crash and ride cymbals. All using just your fingers.

But wait -- there's more. A connection for your MP3 player allows you to put drum tracks over any song in your digital music library, and you can record up to 30 of your own creations to accompany, say, your favorite B.B. King or polka album. The mouse pad even sports separate volume and tempo controls. And if you, or your intended recipient, work in a cubicle, don't fret -- the mouse pad kindly includes a headphone jack.

With all these features, it seems a great waste of time and effort, not to mention musically shameful, to use this mouse pad with an actual mouse to do actual work. Unless, of course, your spreadsheet turns out to have a great beat.

-- Johanna Ambrosio

Over the Top: Diamond Flower mouse

There are very few people who are into bling to this degree (except, as a colleague of mine cracked, perhaps one of the athletes who's wearing a 2008 Celtics championship ring).

The US$23,250 Diamond Flower mouse from Pat Says Now is available in 18-carat white or yellow gold and has 59 diamonds set in the shape of a flower. If flowers are too girly, you can order the diamonds in other configurations. The mouse's maker promises that they're politically correct gemstones, too; in other words, they're not "conflict diamonds" that come from countries sanctioned by the United Nations. What a relief!

I don't know of a computer or a monitor that wouldn't look pretty darn shabby next to this particular mouse. Then again, I probably just don't travel in those kinds of circles, small as they are. A spokesperson for the mouse's US distributor said just seven of these have been sold worldwide in the five years they've been on the market.

For the less ostentatiously wealthy, or perhaps for the not-quite-as-deserving on your holiday list, this same outfit also sells unjeweled mice (for about US$30) in other shapes, including a green brain, an American flag, a glow-in-the-dark ghost and a few other varieties that wouldn't be all that welcome in most work environments.

-- Johanna Ambrosio

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